Volume 2, Issue 4, April 2003
HOW TO DEAL WITH CONFLICT
No one likes conflict. Everyone does their best to avoid conflict. Well not everyone, the 2%er’s (see Caravan Volume 1, Issue 8, August 2002) life is conflict. That’s how they live, that’s how they exist.
So, if there is a problem, how do we deal with it without getting into conflict?
When I am called in by a company or group to solve a problem I use a simple formula that does not create conflict and does not point the finger of blame that puts us in a no-win situation. I ask the people involved to answer three simple questions.
1. Identify the (your) problem and explain how you feel.
2. In your opinion, what will it take to fix the problem?
3. What do you need to do your job or continue with the relationship or go on with your life?
The key to this entire interaction is not to tell the other person what they are doing wrong, but to tell them what you need. The minute you tell someone that they are wrong is the exact time you put yourself at risk for conflict. This is especially true when the other person believes that they are not doing anything wrong, which may be true. Don’t forget, this is your problem and something that you don’t like or that you believe to be wrong. That is why it is important that this interaction is conducted without placing blame on anyone.
Let’s examine these three questions and how they work in a particular situation.
1. Identify the (your) problem.
You’ll notice that I put the word ‘your’ in brackets, that is because you have to realize that the other person probably does not think that he or she has a problem. For example, if a co-worker has the habit of using a swearword every time he or she speaks.
“Hey, how the @?*# are you?”
You were brought up that language like that is inappropriate and should not be used. This co-worker does not believe this is a problem and basically would tell you not to be so sensitive and to get over it. Here is how you can use question #1:
“I have a problem. Whenever you swear the way you do it makes me cringe. I was brought up without hearing that type of language and it really offends me.”
Remember, do not tell them they have a problem. Try to explain how their actions are affecting you.
2. Tell them how you think the problem can be fixed.
Once you have identified your problem come up with ways or suggestions on how to fix it.
“I know you don’t mean to offend me. So can you please try not to use that type of language around me? I would really appreciate that.”
3. What do I need?
This is where you explain what you need from that person in order to solve the problem.
“I need you to think about what you are saying and how you are saying it.”
I’m sure that you can come up with many more examples and situations that would fit. The key is never to tell someone what they did wrong, but to tell them what you need. Yes they can and sometimes will tell you that they cannot (or will not) fulfill your needs. You then have choices and need to decide how important that particular problem is to you. Some are not pleasant and even difficult to do, but you do have choices.
1. You can check with upper management to see what the company policy is regarding the issue.
2. You can request a relocation of either you or the other person.
3. You can simply put up with it.
4. You can quit and go elsewhere to work.
5. You can keep repeating your needs until you are satisfied that those needs are being fulfilled.
The same choices are available to situations in your personal relationships.
1. You can simply put up with it.
2. You can end the relationship and move on.
3. You can keep repeating your needs until you are satisfied that those needs are being fulfilled.
Again, tell them what you need, not what they are doing wrong. I cannot stress this enough.
Most people do not think they are doing anything wrong. But generally people want to help and when they know that their action is adversely affecting you, they will do their best to accommodate as long as you have not attacked them and backed them into a corner. This concept can work in just about any situation you can think of. Just remember not to place any blame as the problem is yours and the other person probably doesn’t mean to cause you any stress. And even if they do, these steps work just as well.
“Learn who you are and what you need.”
I would like to thank everyone that attended Ted’s presentation in conjunction with Information Niagara on April 2 at Club Roma. The evening was, of course, a success and we hope to have gained some new relationships from the event. I would also like to share some of the comments we received…
”You are an amazing speaker and I feel privileged to have listened to you tonight.”
” clever, creative, thought-provoking presentation”
”Thanx Ted. You’re the silver lining in the sports coat of life.”
”I enjoyed the humor in the presentation very much….I’ve heard most of your message many times, but this had a tremendous impact, it really hit home.”
”By the time he finished I forgot the stressful day I had…I had a blast.”
”I attended your presentation…and wanted to let you know how very much I enjoyed it. I was able to relate to just about everything - - whether it had to do with my personal or professional life. Thank you for a wonderful night!!”
There were many comments and I wish that I could share them all, but thanks to everyone. If you are looking for someone to put on a program at your company or association then visit our website www.thehumphrygroup.com and contact us to customize a program for you. Ted could be the answer!
To find out how we can help you or your organization please browse our website
To subscribe to THE CARAVAN please send an email with your name to email@example.com and type SUBSCRIBE as the subject.